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Thursday, January 22, 2015


All roads led to the tiny village of Elsendorp, situated in the eastern extremities of the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant, on 26/10/13 for the match between VV Elsendorp and Tuvalu, but, for those relying on public transport, there wasn't a bus in sight, only a five-mile walk from the nearby town of Gemert.

Still, it was a beautiful afternoon for a game of football, and VV Elsendorp certainly put its best foot forward in playing host to the visiting Tuvalu side playing the 19th match of its marathon 11-week, 21-game tour of Holland, at . The hosts, playing in the ninth level of the Dutch pyramid, had lost their first five games of the season and a win against their opponents would have provided a confidence-boost.

Almost straight from the kick-off, Rick Hubers darted off down the left wing towards and into the Tuvalu penalty-area, where he met a wall of defenders and, instead of barging through them all, ended up deflecting the ball over the goal-line for a goal-kick.

 STANDING TO ATTENTION: The Tuvalu bench watches on as their starting eleven and their counterparts from VV Elsendorp line up for the national anthems

There was precious little other action during the first ten minutes, during which Tuvalu were comfortable and gaining in confidence, and their erstwhile goalkeeper-turned-defender Jelly Selau had the game's first shot on 11 minutes, a 20-yard effort which flew a yard wide of Arno Peters' goal.

Lutelu Tiule had Tuvalu's next effort on goal in the 15th minute, receiving the ball after Sio Silitone's free-kick, turned an Elsendorp defender but shot wide. Three minutes later, Alopua Petoa latched on to a through ball, but, after a tussle with a home defender, was only able to send his effort high and wide of the left-hand post.

Roy van der Wetering had Elsendorp's first shot on goal soon after, his low effort easily gathered by Mauga Tonise in the Tuvalu goal. In the 23rd minute, Fatu Alefaio's booming shot from at least 35 yards out took a wild deflection out for a corner; from the corner, Tiute's firm header went just over Peters' crossbar. This was quickly followed by a long-range half-volley from Selau which ended up just off-target.

As Elsendorp attacked the Tuvalu penalty-area from the left-hand side with 27 minutes on the clock, Lars van der Cruijsen was left unattended around six yards out, but he got his header completely underneath the cross which found him.

In the thirty-third minute, Lutelu Tiute received the ball in the Elsendorp penalty-area and turned a defender, who knocked him down; referee Wim Faassen really had no option to award a penalty to the visitors. A minute or so later, after Tuite received some attention on the pitch, Alopua Petoa finally broke the deadlock from the penalty-spot, stroking the ball to Peters' left, sending the home 'keeper the wrong way.

 1:0 TO THE TUVALU: Manager Richard Steensma and substitute Eric Tealofi look on as Alopua Petoa opens the scoring with his 34th-minute spot-kick

Eric Tealofi came on for Selau immediately after the goal, and going behind galvanised the Elsendorp team into action, with Rick de Bruijn the focal point; he headed a corner just over the bar in the 37th minute, and a cross from Jordy de Vries the wrong side of the post two minutes later.

Uota Ale sent the ball over the Elsendorp bar from distance just over on 40 minutes, and this was more or less the last meaningful action of the first half, during which his team-mates Petoa, James Lepaio and Selau had performed well, while de Bruijn, Rick Hubers and Stijn Vos had more than done their bit for the hosts.

Petoa had been having a lean time in front of goal prior to this fixture, and a one-on-one with Peters in the 52nd minute following a breakaway and pass from Panapa Mafoa gave him the perfect opportunity to augment his goal-tally in this game and, by the same token, his confidence in front of goal; unfortunately for him, his shot beat Peters but trickled agonisingly wide.

There were signs early on in the second-half that Elsendorp had upped their game, and shots from Hubers and Ron Zomers in quick succession, together with Stijn Vos wreaking havoc on the left wing, suggested that the men in green and white had much to offer. Vos may have been leading the Tuvalu defence a merry dance, but he found a ready adversary in Fatu Alefaio, who was, as always, proving himself to be a two-legged bulldozer in the back-line.

GOT IT COVERED: Elsendorp 'keeper Arno Peters comes for the ball following a Tuvalu corner; among those in attendance are team-mates Lars van der Cruijsen and Dick de Bruijn
Elsendorp were suddenly looking the more likely to score, but, at the other end, Telava Folitau headed just over from a corner with 62 minutes gone. Six minutes later, Alefaio was injured in a crunching tackle with van der Cruijsen; the Tuvaluan came off worst and had to be substituted by Amatusi Telogo Peni, who had himself been substituted in the first half by Afelee Valoa.

Eric Tealofi had the next clear opportunity for Tuvalu on 74 minutes, but dallied too long and his shot, when it eventually came, was deflected behind for a corner. Seconds later, the ball was in the back of the Elsendorp net. The corner was met by three Tuvaluan players who had jumped together, unchallenged for the ball, which fell to Uota Ale, whose shot to Peters' right was well saved by the 'keeper. However, Telava Folitau, who had come on at half-time for Teake Filialofa, followed up for the rebound and knocked the ball out of the Elsendorp custodian's reach.

There were precious few chances for either team after that, though Petoa, put through once again in the 80th minute, saw his shot saved well by Peters, who saw a low shot from Tealofi go just wide of his left-hand post moments later.

Sepe Willie, who was turning out to be Tuvalu's most influential player on their tour of Holland, was injured in the run-up to the game, but managed to come on for the last few minutes, replacing Telogo Peni, who this time stayed off the pitch.

There was another moment of danger for the visitors as the game went into injury-time as de Bruijn's cross, again from the left-hand side, flew just centimetres in front of Jordy de Vries, but Tuvalu breathed again and could celebrate both a deserved win and a clean sheet.


TUVALU: 1 Bill MAUGA, 2 Jelly SELAU (17 Eric TEALOFI), 3 James LEPAIO, 6 Uota ALE, 7 Lutelu TIETE (14 Sepe IONISI), 8 Panapa MAFOA, 11 Teake FILIALOFA, 12 Alopua PETAU, 15 Fatu ALEFAIO, 18 Sio SILITONE, 19 Amatusi TELOGO PENI (16 Afelee VALOA)
THEN AND NOW: Sadly for VV Elsendorp,their season was not to get any better, and were relegated to the tenth (and bottom) tier of Dutch football. They are, at the moment, to be found in fifth place in their regional Zesde Klasse division.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: You can often tell what the people of a particular town are like by their football club, its supporters, players and staff. In Elsendorp's case, the club is the focal point of what is an extremely small village, and it represents its village well. Many thanks are due to club chairman Frank van der Munckhof and, in particular,to club secretary Anja van der Cruijsen.

Apologies in advance should the above team information prove incorrect; should this be the case, kindly pass on the relevant information and the above article shall be updated as soon as this has been received.

1 comment:

  1. Great Story!!!

    Thank you!

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